Working in the park

Another beautiful late winter, early spring day. Too nice to stay indoors.

Leaving the house, the sky is so blue.

Leaving the house, the sky is so blue.

I have my lunch with me once again. And my brilliant book ‘You can’t read this book’ by Nick Cohen which I might finish while I eat.

I go past the Mystery and through Greenbank Park.Working in the park02 Working in the park03 Working in the park04

To arrive at what’s simply known in our house as ‘the park’ – my central place for all of my adult life. All deep thoughts and big decisions are brought here. And entering the park at the end of Greenbank Lane one of the park’s annual miracles is happening.

A little group of ornamental cherry trees.

A little group of ornamental cherry trees.

Traditionally these trees are always the first blossoms in our part of Liverpool. And from across the road I can see the trees have a softness now, their harsh winter outlines slightly blurred.

And that’s because, on this final day of February, Spring has begun.Working in the park06 Working in the park07 Working in the park08 Working in the park09

In the bright sunshine there is an air of celebration about the park. The Earth has once again travelled right the way round the sun and look at us, look what we’ve done!Working in the park10

I soon arrive at my lunch place.Working in the park11 Working in the park12

And I don’t in fact finish my book as there’s work I want to do.Working in the park13

I want to think about The Florrie.

The Florence Institute, Mill Street, Liverpool 8

The Florence Institute, Mill Street, Liverpool 8

A lot of our work involves working with people in communities and enterprises and helping them to develop their ideas about what they do. Obviously most of this work is done with the people and in the place we’re talking about, We are called ‘a sense of place’ after all. But we always like to think and reflect on things too, and that’s what I’m up to today as I walk around and sit and think in the lovely park.

The Florrie was a boys club, set up in the 1890s in the Dingle.Working in the park15 Working in the park16 Working in the park17 Working in the park18

And it was loved and cherished by the people of the area until government cutbacks forced its closure in the 1980s. Attempts were made to reopen it, but eventually the place fell into decline and, almost, ruin.Working in the park19 Working in the park20 Working in the park21

But over the last seven years a determined group of mostly local people, who we are now working with, have more than saved The Florrie. They’ve restored it and now re-opened it as a centre for everyone in the local community and a major heritage resource and events venue for Merseyside and indeed anyone who wants to come to this beautiful historic place.Working in the park22 Working in the park23

William Roscoe’s up there of course, as someone who lived in the Dingle. and footballers Robbie Fowler and Ian Callaghan. Plus local boys Ringo Starr and Billy Fury. Their mate Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers is a Florrie old boy and did his first gigs here.Working in the park24 Working in the park25

And sport has always been important here. And is remembered in the changing exhibitions in the lovely Heritage Resource Centre.

But now a brilliant future is being created out of The Florrie’s past. All of the local community, and everyone else who wants to come and use all the spaces they have for events, conferences, sports, activities and weddings.Working in the park26 Working in the park27 Working in the park28 Working in the park29

Looking out from the main hall, across the river, to Wales.

Looking out from the main hall, across the river, to Wales.

And I’m delighted to be sat here thinking about all they stand for and what they might do next.Working in the park31

Find out much more about The Florrie and what’s happening there at their new website.

And a song for the day? One for the cherry trees I think, from John Spillane.

7 thoughts on “Working in the park

  1. stan cotter

    Hi Ronnie,
    I used to be a member of The Florrie. I first saw the Mutiny on the Bounty there, the original.

    I remember as a child queuing outside the end door with my mother waiting to see the children that had been sent as evacuees from the London bombings, my mum volunteering to help them, but they never turned up. Couldn’t understand why they chose Liverpool. We were being bombed too!

    As a nine year old a guy asked me to play billiards and I told him I hadnt a clue how to play.
    But he said ‘I`ll show you.’ I hit the white and dropped both reds, top right and left pockets and he
    walked away saying ‘I thought you couldnt play.’ And I had never played in my life before or since.

    The shot from the top of The Florrie across the water? My house is just across to the right of the
    gas tanks.

    And did you know Frankie Vaughan, the entertainer, was a keen supporter of The Florrie?

    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Stan, Good to hear from you. Might have known you’d have been a member.

      You’d enjoy going in there and having a look round. They’ve got loads of great historical stuff. Haven’t seen any evacuees hanging around though!

  2. Mandy

    The stained glass window that shows the Table Tennis Theatre is amazing and I’ve never heard of such a thing – table tennis must have been a very popular indoor sport in the heyday of the Florrie. It is so good that the building has been restored. What a great effort from an enterprising community!

    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      And table tennis is still popular at The Florrie, Mandy!

      By the way, that stained glass is newly done. Copied from photographs of the old glass that had long gone during the building’s decline. I think the glassmakers have done a fantastic job.

  3. jbaird

    I’m so glad The Florrie has been restored to its “glorrie.” Wish I could play table tennis there. I love the photo of the crocuses. They are a sure harbinger of spring. xo

  4. lindsay53

    All credit to the people for their work on restoring a fantastic resource. Hope it goes from strength to strength. Thanks for giving us an insight, Ronnie.


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